By: Kimberly Leal

The love of my life, Auralia Elizabeth Tortomasi, is gearing up to turn three this spring. These past three years have been trial and error at best. I am far from the many elite athletes whom I admire (Hello! Lauren Fleshman!). However, I am a full-time educator, wife, coach, advisor, runner, and most importantly, mommy. If you are like me, you realize that all of us have reached an elite status of our own.


While I may not feel I am an expert, I have the personal experience with how a child has changed my perspective on running and racing. I now realize I took running for granted. It used to be uncomplicated. Now, I have a dependent that I must always consider before taking those first steps out the door.  Here are some things I have learned:

Establish and Maintain a Support Network
Make sure you marry an incredibly selfless, supportive life-long partner. Once Auralia was born it quickly became overwhelming -- the sleepless nights, feeding on demand, and a host of other obstacles that wear down new parents. Through it all, my husband challenged me to continue with running. He knew it was essential to my identity and it did help to maintain a slight bit of sanity.   


As Auri gets older, I find that a support network will get me out of the house and hold my butt accountable. It is so easy to get sucked into the latest Saturday morning cartoons and share sticky handfuls of Kix on the couch with Auri; however, when I know some incredible ladies are waiting for me, I peel myself away, layer on some incredible Oiselle gear, and get going. 

Embrace a New Reality
We all know that woman who ran until the day she gave birth. In fact, they probably delivered the baby mid-interval on the track. I totally thought that would be me. Yeah... The reality of it was I stopped running a few months before Auri was born because it was becoming increasingly uncomfortable. Quitting running (and the fact that I may or may not have ordered 25 boxes of Girl Scout cookies) ensured that I would put on some extra baby pounds and would make it that much harder to get back to my former self when it was all said and done.


Two and a half years later, I have fully embraced my new body. Sure, I have had to accept that certain items of clothing will never fit my body anymore and certain PRs will never be bested. But, I'm a mom. Sometimes it's okay that I "look" like a mom. It's certainly okay that I run like a mom. My new mission is to help Auri learn to love herself and her body leading by example.  


Running Liberation Comes in the Color of Plum
I do not have a direct connection to the company B.O.B., nor am I being paid to endorse their product...but let me just say that when we picked up our beautiful Revolution SE stroller, it was love at first sight! Running soon became a family event. There is no doubt that I sometimes yearn for the simplicity of the pre-Auri days when my running partner was a little less fussy. However, including our daughter on running adventures has helped us to slow down and enjoy the actual activity much more.  Who knows what we might have missed had we not had Auri with us running along the Embarcadero causing us to stop in wonderment at the beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge in the near distance.


*An extra perk: it makes you feel pretty badass when you are effortlessly running alongside others and you just happen to be pushing your kid. (Full disclosure: my husband does most of the pushing! Again, selfless, supportive life-long partner.)

So has a toddler changed my running? Yes! Of course! I am now a little more observant, more willing, more real, an opportunist, and above all a mommy. I wouldn't change any of it.  Whatever your running situation, enjoy every step of the way, fellow birds!

Atsuko Tamara